RCL and NCLH develop new Healthy Sail Panel

RCL and NCLH develop new Healthy Sail Panel
Royal Caribbean Group
Left to right: Governor Michael Leavitt and Scott Gottlieb are the co-chairs of the Healthy Sail Panel

The Royal Caribbean Group (RCL) and Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings (NCLH) have partnered together to launch a Healthy Sail Panel, which will develop enhanced health and safety standards to help cruise lines respond to the global Covid-19 pandemic and safely resume operations.

The panel comprises top experts in public health, infectious disease, biosecurity, hospitality and maritime operations and will deliver its initial recommendations by the end of August.

"This unprecedented disease requires us to develop unprecedented standards in health and safety," said Richard Fain, chairman and CEO of RCL. "Bringing aboard these respected experts to guide us forward demonstrates our commitment to protecting our guests, our crews and the communities we visit."

According to RCL and NCLH, the panel will submit plans to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), and they will also be shared with the entire cruise industry and other nd regulatory bodies.

"We compete for the vacationing consumer's business every day, but we never compete on health and safety standards," said Frank Del Rio, president and CEO of NCLH. "While the cruise industry has always had rigorous health standards, the unique challenges posed by Covid-19 provide an opportunity to raise the bar even higher."

The panel is co-chaired by Governor Leavitt, former secretary of the U.S. Department Health and Human Services, and Scott Gottlieb, former commissioner of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA).

"In convening the Healthy Sail Panel, we sought the participation of a diverse group of leading experts in areas of science and public health that are directly relevant to the considerations listed by the No Sail Order," said Leavitt. "We view our work as a profoundly important public health effort. The health and safety of passengers, crew, and the communities that cruise ships visit will be the principal focus of this project."

Gottlieb said: "We know that the public health issues that must be addressed are complex, and in some areas, tackling them will require novel approaches. Our goal in assembling this team of leading experts was to develop best practices that can improve safety and provide a roadmap for reducing the risks of Covid-19."

Other members of the panel include: 

  • Patrik Dahlgren, senior vice president of global marine operations and fleet optimisation for all Royal Caribbean Group global brands.
  • Helene Gayle, CEO of the Chicago Community Trust, and former president and CEO of international humanitarian organisation CARE. 
  • Julie Gerberding, executive vice president and chief patient officer for pharmaceutical company Merck, and former director of the CDC. 
  • Steven Hinrichs, professor and chair in the department of pathology and microbiology at the University of Nebraska Medical Center in Omaha, director of the Nebraska Public Health Laboratory, and director of the University of Nebraska Center for Biosecurity. 
  • Robin Lindsay, executive vice president of vessel operations at NCLH 
  • Michael Osterholm, director of the Center for Infectious Disease Research and Policy at the University of Minnesota. 
  • Stephen Ostroff, who has held high-level roles at both the CDC and FDA William Rutala, who has experience of medically managing various diseases and studied epidemiology and virology, particularly managing outbreaks and emerging pathogens. 
  • Kate Walsh, dean at the School of Hotel Administration at Cornell University and E.M. Statler Professor. 

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Rebecca Gibson
By Rebecca Gibson
08 July 2020

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